You are on page 1of 5

December 2006

Caregiver Assistance News

“C a r i n g f o r y o u … c a r i n g f o r o t h e r s ”

Medications and What to Ask the Doctor

Small Things Can Cause Big Trouble
Medications should always be • If more than one drug is needed,
taken exactly as prescribed. Keep an ask the doctor if they can be taken
up-to-date list of them and when they at the same times each day. If a
should be taken. Never make any drug must be taken at a difficult
changes without talking to the doc- time (for instance, in the middle of
tor first. Learn to recognize changes the night), ask about other choices.
in symptoms, because it might mean • Can a lower dose be prescribed
the person in your care needs to have without bad effects?
a prescription changed. Drugs can • Is it possible to buy a one-week
be expensive, confusing to use, and supply of a new medication to
have unwanted side effects. Patients see if there are any serious side
or caregivers should be sure to ask effects? Are free samples available
the doctor and pharmacist how to use to try?
Adapted from The Comfort of Home: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide for Caregivers, © 2006 CareTrust Publications.

them correctly.
At the Doctor’s Office
Give the doctor a list of all the
medications (and the dosages) that
the person in your care is taking,
including eye drops, over-the-counter
products, vitamins, and herbal
remedies. Tell the doctor about
any other treatments being used,
because using multiple treatments
can be dangerous. Tell the doctor
about any allergies, including food
allergies to foods. Questions to ask:
• Which medicine relieves pain
the best?
• How long does it take for the drug
to work?
• Are there side effects? What
should you do if you notice any? Inspiration
• Will any one drug react with No matter how long the winter,
other drugs? spring is sure to follow.
• Could changes in diet, exercise,
reducing stress, or other things
help the condition?
Ca r e gi v e r A s si s tanc e N ews le t t e r December 2006

At The Pharmacy
Resource for You Always fill pre-
scriptions at the
FREE Prescription Savings Card same drugstore
Individuals and families who because they keep
meet all four of the following careful records and
requirements are eligible for the this can help prevent
Together Rx Access Card: side effects and drug
interactions. Choose
❑ Not eligible for Medicare
a pharmacy that uses
❑ Have no public or private large, easy-to-open
prescription drug coverage containers with large
❑ Household income equal to or print labels. The
less than: pharmacist can also help you select
– $30,000 for a single person over-the-counter products. Questions
– $40,000 for a family of two to ask:
– $50,000 for a family of three ❍ Will the insurance company pay
– $60,000 for a family of four for this drug? What is the highest
– $70,000 for a family of five amount they will pay?
❑ Legal resident of the U.S. ❍ Is a generic drug available? Will
or Puerto Rico the pharmacist call the doctor for
If you meet all of the eligibility approval?
requirements listed above, simply ❍ What side effects should you
call 1-800-250-2839 to start look for? When should you call
savings averaging 25–40% on the doctor?
your prescriptions. For the most
❍ Can using more than one drug
current list of medicines and
at the same time cause unsafe
products, visit:
❍ Will the pharmacy’s computer alert
the pharmacist about possible drug
interactions or side effects before
Drug Errors the prescription is filled?
Medical errors hurt 1.5 million people ❍ What are the risks of not
in the U.S. per year. The average taking the medicine? Are there
hospital patient is subject to at least risks in not finishing the entire
one medication error per day, further- prescription?
more, drug errors are responsible for ❍ How dangerous is an overdose?
killing more than 7,000 hospitalized
❍ Is drinking alcohol or smoking
patients a year. Poor communication
allowed while taking the
as patients move through the hospital
system is responsible for 50% of all
medication errors. ❍ Should it be taken with a meal,
or with water or milk?
© 2006 CareTrust Publications

Source: New York Times; What Drugs Do You Take? Hospitals Seek To Collect
Better Data and Prevent Errors; May 23, 2006; Institute for Healthcare
❍ Should any specific foods be
avoided, such as grapefruit?

Taking Care of Yourself
ays While Grieving
Coping With the Holid “Cs”:
you ’ve los t so me one you love, try remembering the three
Finding ways to
OO SE — Ch oos e the ac tiv itie s you want to participate in.
CH creating
r mis sin g lov ed one ca n bri ng a positive focus to grief. Try
acknowledge you the holiday tree,
l rit ua l, su ch as ligh tin g a candle, placing a memento on
a persona
or making a holiday toast.
keeping a moment of silence,
y grieve differently.
know what you need. They ma
COMMUNICATE—Let others s.
l be eas ier for eve ryo ne onc e they understand your feeling
The holidays wil promise.
— The re is no rig ht or wro ng way to grieve, so try to com
, and finding
os ing you r ac tio ns, com mu nicating your choices to others
By cho
will also find
y find the holidays easier. You
suitable compromises, you ma
renewed strength and hope.
Hospice Foundation of Am
Source: Kenneth J. Doka;

Medication Safety Tips

Live Life Laughing! 1. Refill prescriptions early so
you won’t run out.
It looks like it’s going to storm.
You’d better stay for dinner. 2. If someone will be taking several
But why? I’ve been medications on his own, find a
driving for 60 years! pharmacy that will do
simplified packaging.
3. Check expiration dates
frequently and discard
any medicines that are
4. Keep all medicines out
of sight and away from
children and pets. Keep
the phone number of the
closest poison control center near
the phone just in case there is
a problem.
5. Wear a medical alert bracelet
© 2006 CareTrust Publications

or carry a card that lists the

medications a person is currently
taking. This can save their life in
an emergency situation.

Our Purpose
To provide caregivers with critical
More Choices for Medicare Drug Benefits
information enabling them to do their job The number of companies offering
with confidence, pride, and competence.
Medicare prescription-drug plans will
Ordering Info increase in 2007. Also, more plans will
From the publishers of feature zero deductibles. Beneficiaries
who are satisfied with their current
An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide Medicare prescription-drug coverage will
for Caregivers
not have to take any action. The average
available from…
premium will remain at about $24 per
CareTrust Publications LLC
PO Box 10283, Portland, OR 97296 month.
800-565-1533 For more information about Medicare’s
prescription-drug benefit call 800-
Comments and suggestions welcome.
Medicare (800-633-4227) or visit the
©2006 CareTrust Publications LLC.
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any medicare website at
component of this publication is forbidden
without a license from the publisher.
To see if you, or the person in your care, is one of the approximately
Some content in this publication is excerpted 8 to 12 million older adults eligible for some public or private assistance
from The Comfort of Home: An Illustrated
Step-by-Step Guide for Caregivers. It is for
and currently are not getting it, visit:
informational use and not health advice.
It is not meant to replace medical care but to
supplement it. The publisher assumes no
liability with respect to the accuracy,
completeness or application of information
presented or the reader’s misunderstanding
of the text.

N E X T I S S U E … un d erstan d in g S tro k e : one d isease , t w o causes

Medications—December 2006

Caregiver Assistance News

“C a r i n g f o r y o u … c a r i n g f o r o t h e r s ”

Q u i ck Q u i z
Geriatric patients, who have several different doctors and take multiple
medications, are at the greatest risk for medication errors. Read the issue and
answer the questions below to test your knowledge of medications.
1. Always give the person in your care their medications exactly as prescribed.
2. You can ignore any side effects to medications until they become painful.
3. It’s okay for someone take all the vitamins they want without telling
the doctor.
4. Sometimes the pharmacy’s computer will alert the pharmacist about
possible drug interactions or side effects before the prescription is filled.
5. It may be safer for someone who will be taking several medications on his own,
to have simplified packaging.
6. Drug errors are responsible for killing more than 7,000 hospitalized patients a

Answers: 1. T, 2. F, 3. F, 4. T, 5. T, 6. T, 7. T, 8. T, 9. T, 10. T
7. It is important to know whether drinking alcohol or smoking
is allowed while taking the medication; should it be taken
with a meal, or with water or milk? Should any specific foods
be avoided, such as grapefruit?
8. It is important to refill prescriptions early so you won’t run out.
9. Learn to recognize changes in symptoms, because it might mean the person in
your care needs to have a prescription changed.
10. The doctor should have a list of all the medications and the dosages that the
person in your care is taking, including eye drops, over-the-counter products,
vitamins, and herbal remedies.
© 2006 CareTrust Publications

Name ________________________________________